By Karen Bong
KUCHING, June 25: Election Commission (EC) chairman Azhar Azizan Harun today refuted a rumour currently making its rounds on social media claiming that Sarawakians who intend to vote during the next Sarawak state election, which is due in 2021, must register by June or July this year or miss the boat.
“That’s not true because the final period to register will only be known after the announcement of the election date,” he told a press conference after officiating at the Voter Education (VE) programme at Polytechnic Kuching Sarawak here today.
“The public must understand that there is a time gap to update the electoral roll, and voter registration will take quite some time as it has to go through a stringent verification process before they can be included in the list of voters. Also, the electoral roll must be finalised and gazetted.”
The electoral roll is updated once every three months, meaning the names of those who sign up in the first quarter will only be added to the roll sometime between the middle and at the end of May.
Those who register in the second quarter will need to wait until the middle of August before they are added into the electoral roll.
Azhar reminded that now is not too early or late to sign up, but those who register at the last minute might miss the opportunity to vote in a snap election.
“You can do it now or tomorrow. Why do we have to wait until the news of an election is looming then you decide to do it? Whether now or later, you still need to fill the forms. It is a very simple process.
“But for the names to be included in the electoral roll is a long process because the names of new voters will be put up on public display for 14 days to see if there are objections, to ensure that the voter is registered for the right constituency, and all those issues,” he added.
In other countries, people will go to great lengths and fight for their right to vote.
“In Malaysia, every citizen has the right to vote and be protected under the Constitution, but why are we not fulfilling our responsibility? If we are serious, why wait until the last minute?” he added.
The EC, through the Election Academy (APR), introduced the VE programme in 2017.
The VE initiative is intended at instilling public understanding of the country’s election process, fending off negative perceptions of the EC’s transparency and raising public awareness on the importance of registering as voters as well as voting.
In addition, it also provides exposure, instils knowledge and educates the public about democracy and the election process practised in Malaysia.
EC deputy chairman Dr Azmi Sharom and Politeknik Kuching Sarawak director Jamaliah Ahmad were present at the press conference. — DayakDaily